Connecting to Master Improv Wisdom

May 1, 2024
A female facilitator takes a male attendee by the hand

Some nights, after improv class ends, I spend time with my students by sharing a beer or a burrito. We’ll go over that evening’s lesson and then the conversation organically moves on to other subjects. Sometimes these conversations continue beyond the bites and brews – these are the ones I refer to as parking lot meetings. A lot has been planned, created and revealed in these “meetings.” And, it’s often where students become vulnerable about how the improv class is affecting them. It’s where improv wisdom often meets real life, so I’m happy to hear whatever gems bubble up on the blacktop.

On one recent evening, a parking lot meeting with a student turned into a conversation about my own journey to build a life in St. Augustine. I told him I had wanted to:

  1. Live at the beach.
  2. Build an improv community.
  3. Have meaningful travel adventures.

After I mentioned each of these things, his reply was, “You’re doing it.” Sometimes it takes another person to make you realize that what you’ve been manifesting has actually come to fruition, so I was thankful that he stated the obvious.

For him, the desire for meaningful connections was strong. He’s been hoping to fill his toolbox with ways to easily engage in conversation with new people, which is how he ended up in my improv class. He asked me how I’m able to chat with people I have transactions with as he couldn’t think of anything to say to someone he was paying for delivering a service. I replied with examples such as, “The Cambodian ladies who do my nails wanted to hear about my trip to Cambodia once I told them I got my purse there.” Or, “The guy at the veggie restaurant loves Swatch watches too.” Or, “The folks who work at the parking garage really like chatting about my tiny car.” Suddenly he said, “Oh, so you’re looking for connections!” In that moment, the improv wisdom really kicked in for him.

Shortly after that parking lot meeting, my student went to a party and I received the following note the next day from him:

I went to a party last night and I only knew the host. I was nervous but I used it as a way to work on finding connections while utilizing improv’s “yes, and…” It worked out great!! I was talking to everybody and striking up conversations that were so engaging that people in the party started migrating to my table to join. It was completely different than how I normally am. Your improv class has been life changing!”

I think the wisdom here is that if you’re open, an improv class can be transformational … all you have to do is say, “yes, and…

-Amy Angelilli, Owner + Ringleader, Third Space Improv